Paul Rusesabagina who was portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie “Hotel Rwanda”which was about Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, has declined to plead guilty to all the 13 count charges levelled against him. He demanded to be allowed to plead to each count separately in a case which has put President Paul Kagame’s government in the spotlight.
Rusesabagina who had once called for armed resistance to the government in a video on youtube, made an appearance in a Kigali court where he was accused of terrorism , forming/joining an irregular armed group, complicity in murder amongst other charges.
Rusesabagina’s trial promises to be one of the most high profile cases yet in a string of cases against Kagame’s opponents.
Rusesabagina had been taken to court handcuffed in a van which had the inscription “RIB” which stands for Rwanda Investigation Bureau . The sixty-six years old Paul had on a tan suit with a face mask. He has sat pensively before responding.
He told the court he had contributed 24,000 euros to the National Liberation Front (FLN), the military wing of the movement “Rwandais pour le changement democratique”, in which he co-chairs.
He said “FLN” killed people, if there are bad acts that were done against the people I regret that and I ask for forgiveness from the families of the victims”.
Rusesabagina had refused to enter a plea for any of the charges . He is due to appear in court again on Thursday to apply for bail.
In the oscar nominated film “Hotel Rwanda”, Rusesabagina was portrayed as a former hotel manager who uses his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutis fleeing the slaughter.
After the genocide, he had gotten a Belgian Citizenship and became a resident of the US. Afterwards, he had become a vocal critic of Kagame whom he accused of stifling opposition, an accusation which the government denies.